The Memory of a Saint: Managing the legacy of St Bernard of Clairvaux

Historian article

By Georgina Fitzgibbon, published 2nd January 2020

The literary life and afterlives of a medieval saint

When Bernard of Clairvaux died in 1153, the Cistercian Order was faced with a problem. The self-proclaimed ‘chimera of his age’ had enjoyed an unusual and varied monastic career, as abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux and papal confidante, making him remarkably well-known for a monk. At the funeral the presiding abbot of Cîteaux was so worried by the flocks of pilgrims drawn by Bernard’s reputation that he begged the body to stop performing miracles and drawing crowds... 

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